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Rams Adjusting Well to London

Posted Oct 24, 2012


(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

LONDON – Encouraged to stay awake as long as possible Tuesday night so he could go to bed at a normal time and get on a regular sleep schedule as soon as possible, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn spent his first night in London in a movie theatre, of all places.

“I was laying in my bed and felt myself dozing off and was like ‘Oh, this is not good,’” Quinn said. “I was just trying to keep myself busy and active and get out of the hotel.”

So Quinn found the nearest movie theatre and some public transportation to go see the new action movie ‘Taken 2,’ a movie that probably won’t win any Academy Awards but has enough fights, explosions and other loud noises to keep one awake. Or at least so you’d think.

“I went to the movies and even there I dozed off a second,” Quinn said. “It was a struggle.”

No matter how much Quinn and his teammates attempted to get on a regular sleep schedule on their first night in London, the reality of the situation is that you can’t force your body to do things it’s not used to, at least not right away.

Instead, the efforts of Rams coach Jeff Fisher, his staff and his team figure to be much more gradual as they adjust to a six-hour time change and the lingering effects of a nearly eight-hour flight.

Hence the idea behind Fisher and his team wanting to arrive here as early in the week as possible to try to establish some sense of normalcy in advance of Sunday’s game against the Patriots.

“That’s precisely the reason we elected to come over early in the week so we could get the players adjusted not only to the travel but also to the time zone change,” Fisher said.

Quinn, quarterback Sam Bradford and others noted that even with the attempts to go to bed at a regular time, they ended up just staring at the ceiling for hours on end before sleep kicked in around 1 or 2 a.m. London time.

Even with the knowledge that was likely going to happen, Fisher put in a normal work schedule for his team this week, one that closely mirrors what the team would follow in St. Louis on a Wednesday.

Wake up calls were set for around 7 a.m. London time, which is 1 a.m. St. Louis time but getting the players up and used to that schedule didn’t seem to be much of a hindrance to Wednesday’s practice.

“I was very, very pleased with their response this morning and the way they practiced today considering they arrived here yesterday,” Fisher said. “We will gradually acclimate them and adjust their body clocks to play at 5 o’clock and we’ve got several days to do that.”

Helping the Rams make the adjustment not only to the drastic time change and getting over jet lag is a first-class set of accommodations that has essentially created a London version of ContinuityX Training Center at the Grove Hotel on the outskirts of the city.

With the help of the training staff, operations staff, equipment staff, I.T. staff and video staff combined with an extremely courteous and understanding hotel staff, the Rams have created meeting rooms, coaching offices, dining areas and even a locker room right in the lobby of the hotel.

It’s actually quite a spectacle to behold.

“Our organization did a great job of making this feel like a home game,” end Chris Long said. “Our hotel is awesome. We have a locker room in the hotel, it’s pretty amazing. As soon as you step in the locker room or training room, it’s business as usual and we really feel that way. They’ve done a great job with that.”

The team hotel is surrounded by a golf course but also has a makeshift full-length football field that the team used for a walk through Wednesday morning and will use for practice Friday before re-locating to accommodations more centrally located in the city.

“This morning when we started out it was no different than a normal Wednesday for us in St. Louis,” Fisher said. “Our organization, with the help of everybody here, has done a tremendous job setting up The Grove hotel as if it was a facility and so we started meetings with no glitches and everything went well this morning.”

The facilities at the team hotel aren’t the only ones that are drawing rave reviews from the Rams as they make the adjustment to all things London.

Courtesy of owner Stan Kroenke, the Rams are spending the first two days of this week training on the pristine fields of the Arsenal Football Club. Located outside London in Hertfordshire, the Arsenal training center is widely regarded as one of the most advanced of its kind in the world.

The Arsenal facility holds 10 full-size grass fields (or pitches, as the locals say), all of which have undersoil drainage and automated sprinkler systems. Two of the fields even have undersoil heating systems and all are engineered to precisely duplicate the playing surface of Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal plays its home game.

“These fields are awesome,” Long said. “This is a first class facility. We are really grateful that they let us use their facility. I wouldn’t want a bunch of big 300 pounders tearing up our grass if we were a world-class soccer team but we sure appreciate it.”

As the Rams get more comfortable and get their bodies on a more regular clock, everything figures to slow down a bit for them and they’ll be able to enjoy more of what London has to offer.

Part of staying away from the heart of the city the first few nights was to help them focus on the task at hand and ensuring they get their bodies on to London mode. Long claimed Wednesday afternoon that he’s already there.

By Thursday morning, they all hope to be so they can enjoy the city a little bit without looking through bleary eyes. Make no mistake, though, just because they plan to get more comfortable doesn’t mean they’ll lose focus on the task at hand.

“We know that we are here to win a game,” Bradford said. “Coach Fisher made that very apparent in our meeting this morning. Our schedule today was exactly the way it would have been if we were back home in St. Louis. I think everyone on our team understands why we are over here this week.”